Peppermint Oil, Uses & Benefits

History

As with most herbs and spices, Peppermint (Mentha x pipertia) has ties to the ancient cultures of Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Uses varied from perfumery to medicinal. Peppermint even holds a place in Greek Mythology.

The story goes that on the banks of the Cocytus river, one of the five rivers of Hades, which runs partially underground, lived a water nymph called Minthe. Minthe was beautiful and used all her powers of beauty to seduce Hades.

 One day the wife of Hades, queen Persephone, catches them together and is overcome with jealousy. To punish them, she turns Minthe into a weed. But such was the God-like beauty, sweetness, and fair aroma of Minthe that even as a weed these remained. This was the creation of mint.

Peppermint was a prized commodity often involved in trades and exchanges. Biblical references to the tithing of herbs and spices such as mint suggest its value and widespread use. (1)

Generally, peppermint is thought to be a hybrid between water mint  and spearmint. Though it was widely cultivated throughout Europe and North America, it was not until the late 1600s and early 1700s that peppermint was named as a distinct species. In 1721 it became an official part of the London Pharmacopeia.

Today Peppermint leaf and its oil are listed in the national pharmacopoeias of Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Russia, and Switzerland, and Europe. (2) 

About Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a perennial plant that grows to about 3 feet tall. It has small white or purple flowers and leaves with serrated edges. It is native to Europe but today is cultivated all over the globe usually in moist temperate regions. Since it is a hybrid, it is a sterile plant, and reproduction is done via cloning (clippings).

Peppermint is one of the essential oils most used for medicinal purposes. Consequently, it is mostly grown for its oil. To ensure maximum yield, the harvest is done just before the plant blooms and in the morning hours. (3) (4) 

The following are the primary constituents in Peppermint. They are mostly responsible for the cooling effects, taste, and aroma of Peppermint x piperita :(5)

Menthol (29-48%)
Menthone (20-31%)
Menthyl acetate (3-10%) 

Also present in lesser amounts, but not less important are:

1,8 Cineole (6-7.5%) 
Isomenthone
Neomenthol
beta-Caryophyllene
Menthofuran (1–7%)  
Limonene
Pulegone (1-11%)  

Together these components in a “Mother Nature’s only” recipe give rise to the antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial efficacy of Peppermint essential oil. (6) 

Authors Note – The above composition information may be laborious, dull, and a bit over the top for this type of presentation. However, the point is to deliver a reminder of the chemical and often complex nature of essential oils. Please use essential oils with respect and caution. If unsure about using any essential oil, please contact your physician or certified essential oil practitioner before use.

Properties: Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antiemetic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Astringent, Cephalic, Cholagogue, Circulatory Stimulant, Digestive
Because of the complexity of Peppermint essential oil, it is well suited to aid humans with many different uncomfortable issues.

Benefits

  • Relieves pain of muscles and joint
  • Assists digestion – Intestinal cramping, nausea, sour stomach
  • Eases airway congestion in the chest
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves circulation and blood flow
  • Aids in detoxification (Cholagogue)
  • Relieves pain from headaches and migraines (Cephalic)
  • Increases mental clarity (Cephalic)
  • May promote hair growth (7) 
  • Repel Bugs (8)
  • Adds flavor to food

AIA Internal Use Statement
AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use.

How to Use Peppermint Essential Oil

Diffuse – Place 10 to 15 drops in a diffuser. Diffuse 15 minutes every two hours during the day.

Inhale – Inhale from bottle or lid 2 to 3 times a day, Place 2 drops on a cotton ball and inhale, Rub 1 to 2 drops on hand, hold near the face (avoid touching face), and inhale.

Mist – Add 30 to 40 drops to a half cup of water. Shake vigorously before each use and apply lightly to areas of concern. Avoid getting it in the eyes.

Rub – Place 4 to 6 drops in one ounce (2 TBS) of massage cream or oil. Apply to areas of concern.

*DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for educational purposes only, not to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition, or prescribe in any way. The data presented here may not be complete or fully accurate. As with all essential oils, do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner.
*SAFETY WARNING: If applying an essential oil to the skin, always perform a small patch test by properly diluting the oil in an appropriate carrier oil and applying to an insensitive part of the body, such as inside of the elbow. Use vegetable or milk to remove any essential oils causing irritation. Always keep essential oils and blends away from children. To slow oxidation and protect shelf life, store in a cool, dark place with lids tightly secured. Never put oils in the ear canal or eyes. Tell all your health care providers about any Alternative health products you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Learn More

How to Choose and Use an Essential Oil 
Essential Oil Basics 
Essential Oil Extraction Methods 
Ecocert Certification 

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